Unconstitutional in San Fran

The US District Court in San Francisco found that City’s requirement for large payouts to rent controlled tenants when owners wanted  to get out of the rental business unconstitutional, in a decision on Levin vs. City and County of San Francisco. As we reported a few weeks ago, the San Francisco ordinance strongly resembles New York’s demolition policy. The judge found that an attempt to make landlords pay tenants the difference between their current regulated rents and the market rents they would face if evicted was unconstitutional because there was no nexus between the landlord’s action and market rents generally. No single landlord had as much effect on market rents as City policies, he noted.

In New York, the Fortune Society is suing a Queens apartment complex for rejecting ex-cons as tenants. The Society is arguing that  the policy has a disparate impact on minorities. Criminals are not a protected class, yet, and landlords have potential liability for the safety of other residents and the property. Civil rights attorneys, however, have been broadening the use of disparate impact claims and the US Supreme Court may rule on an unrelated disparate impact case this year. That case involves whether the impact has to be intentionally discriminatory. The high court has taken two previous cases on the subject but both were settled before a ruling was issued.

Moving from legal theory to basic skills, HPD this week acknowledged misreading a zoning map and says the proposed Astoria Cove project has to include affordable housing for residents at 60 percent of Area Median Income rather than 80 percent. Then an HPD spokesman demonstrated questionable math skill by suggesting that  the deeper subsidies that might be required for lower income tenants would have no effect on the bottom line.

ABO submitted testimony opposing two proposed City Council bills this week. Intro 222 would require 72 hours notice for all non-emergency repairs. We noted that the proposed law was extremely vague and could create emergencies while, say, small leaks grew. There are also concerns about getting work done while repairmen are available. Intro 433 would require safety covers on all electrical receptacles in common areas. We commented that tenants could easily remove the covers for their own use, creating another headache with tenant caused violations such as removed smoke detector batteries, and that existing electrical codes for new construction were dealing with any potential hazard issues over time, in line with national standards.

Finally, Tuesday is election day. Use it or lose it. Here is a link to who is on the ballot across New York State.

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